When it comes to eSports Blizzard does thing a bit differently from other companies. You see, while eSport games like Dota 2 and League of Legends are free, StarCraft II is not. The $40 price tag isn’t going to break the bank if somebody buys a copy, that’s still $40 more than what you’re required to pay compared to LoL and Dota 2.
Now it’s looking like Blizzard might just decide to get into the Free 2 Play model with StarCraft II. During a panel at the Valencia eSports Congress, Dustin Browder (lead designer of SCII) revealed that they have been “looking at free to play as an option for the multiplayer”. The thing holding them back at this point would be the logistics of it, specifically the part on how can they make money off of it. “We don’t know how we would monetise it. While it might be good fun for me to play against someone with only half the units available to them, that’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for them.”
That’s an interesting problem for sure, but I have an idea of how it could work (whether it’s good or not is a different story). Obviously it would only be the multiplayer that was F2P, but what if you made it so that in the multiplayer if you’re playing the free version it only allows you to play standard ladder matches? Obviously you can choose what kind of matches (1v1, 2v2, etc…) you play, and choose your race, but in the F2P version you’re not allowed to play any custom maps or game types whatsoever. Another good option for Blizzard would be to implement ads into the waiting areas and loading screens, though it would be detrimental if they placed a banner ad or something during the actual game. I guess we won’t know anything until Blizzard makes a decision on what they want to do!